By Micha Shalev MHA CDP CDCM CADDCT
Part one of this series appeared in the April issue of the Fifty Plus Advocate. Part three will appear in the June issue of the Fifty Plus Advocate.
Most of us dread the thought of permanently moving a loved one into a skilled nursing facility (SNF), and this sentiment doesn’t change for those who are fortunate enough to have a selection of stellar facilities from which to choose. As caregivers, even though we are fully aware of our individual limitations, it means giving up a certain amount of direct oversight and control. We also know deep down that this move is an admission that our loved one has passed a certain point in their health where returning home or resuming even a few aspects of self-care is no longer a possibility. This transition is a direct dose of reality for everyone involved.
Clothing and accessories
When deciding what kinds of clothing to bring to a SNF and how much, there are several practical matters that should influence your loved one’s packing list. Keep these things in mind:
- Clothing must be easy to get on and off and able to withstand lots of washing and drying.
- While the temperature inside the facility is regulated to a level that would be perfectly comfortable for most active adults, the majority of SNF residents tend to be cold-natured. For this reason, versatile layers are best. Make sure your loved one has warm and comfortable sweatshirts, vests or jackets that can be worn with every outfit, as well as cozy socks that can be worn in bed and non-skid shoes.
- The number of outfits they should bring depends on who will be doing their laundry and how often. A good rule of thumb is to bring at least a week’s worth of clothing—probably more just to provide for additional changes that may be needed. If possible, it is helpful if whoever does the laundry returns their clothes to their closet clipped or hung together as outfits, so they are ready to wear. This is easier for many seniors than having to match separate tops and bottoms, especially if cognitive impairment is a factor.
- Accessories are part of a person’s individual style and should be encouraged! Nothing too valuable or with sharp points or edges should be brought, but if Mom has always worn bright scarves or glittery beads, make sure she has some she can wear every day. If Dad always enjoyed wearing hats, make sure a few of his favorites come with him.
- Women often want their purse close by, and men don’t feel quite right without a wallet in their pocket. Let them bring their wallet or a favorite purse if they feel uncomfortable without it. Even if outings are rare for them, it will help them retain a sense of control and independence in a world that is completely new, strange and scary. You could even put a few dollar bills or some change in it. Just make sure to take out all insurance cards, bank cards and credit cards first.
- Plan to decorate their room for holidays and events. A small seasonal wreath for their door, holiday cards, and wall décor are great ways to remind your loved one of the holiday without taking up precious space on their nightstand or dresser. Window clings are an inexpensive and reusable decorative item that can be easily applied to and removed from a window or mirror. You may have to store seasonal items that aren’t currently in use if there is not enough storage space in their room.
- A favorite everyday door decoration is also a good cue for your loved one that they have returned to “their” room after a meal or activity. Many doors in the SNF look the same, but a personal touch will help theirs stand out.
- Fresh flowers brighten up windowsills and dressers. Just be sure to pick low-maintenance varieties that will not create any mess or instead choose artificial versions. If your loved one is assigned to a room with a less than ideal view from their window, this small touch can make a big difference. You and your loved one can create fresh or silk arrangements together as an activity.
Micha Shalev MHA CDP CDCM CADDCT is the owner of Dodge Park Rest Home and The Adult Day Club at Dodge Park located at 101 Randolph Road in Worcester. He is a graduate of the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners program, and well known speaker covering Alzheimer’s and Dementia training topics. The programs at Dodge Park Rest Home specialized in providing care for individuals with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The facility is holding a free monthly support group meeting on the 2nd Tuesday of each month for spouses and children of individuals with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease. He can be reached at 508-853-8180 or by e-mail at [email protected] or view more information online at www.dodgepark.com.